IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF ASHLEY DAWN HOLTKAMP AND NATHAN WADE HOLTKAMP Upon the Petition of ASHLEY DAWN HOLTKAMP, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning NATHAN WADE HOLTKAMP, Respondent-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, John G.
Holtkamp appeals from the decree dissolving her marriage to
J. Robberts of Robberts & Kirkmann, LLLP, Burlington, for
Michael D. Clark of Clark & Schroeder, PLC, North
Liberty, for appellee.
by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
Holtkamp appeals from the decree dissolving her marriage to
Nathan Holtkamp. She argues the trial court erred in finding
their prenuptial agreement enforceable and in establishing
Nathan's visitation schedule with the parties' minor
children. Because Ashley failed to prove the prenuptial
agreement was executed involuntarily, was procedurally
unconscionable, or lacked a financial disclosure, we agree
with the district court that the prenuptial agreement is
enforceable. Additionally, we modify the visitation schedule
on Tuesday nights and weekends and otherwise agree the
visitation schedule is in the best interests of the children.
Therefore, we affirm the decree as modified.
Background Facts and Proceedings
and Ashley Holtkamp married on May 13, 2006. The marriage
produced two children, born in September 2006 and December
was born in November 1968. He graduated from high school in
1987, and he began building his highly successful trailer
repair business while still in high school. At the time of
trial, he had owned and operated Holtkamp Trailer Repair as a
sole proprietorship for approximately thirty years. According
to his May 9, 2006, Personal Financial Statement, he had a
total annual income of $600, 000 and Holtkamp Trailer Repair
had a present net value of $2, 750, 000. According to his tax
returns, he reported gross receipts of $574, 969 in tax year
2006, which grew to $1, 325, 013 in tax year
2015. He has previously divorced twice after
marriages of five years each, and he was previously engaged
to two other women without marrying either.
was born in July 1981. She graduated from high school in 2000
and became a licensed cosmetologist in 2001. She worked as a
cosmetologist and as a paraeducator in the local school
before and after the marriage. The district court noted her
income in 2016 was $7437.
the issues on appeal is the enforceability of a prenuptial
agreement, which both parties signed on May 11, 2006, two
days before the wedding. Among its provisions, the agreement
states both parties shall retain separate ownership of the
property and liabilities they separately acquired both before
and during the marriage. The agreement also states that, in
the event of dissolution, each party shall have no interest
in the other's separate property. The separately-owned
property acquired prior to marriage specifically includes the
personal property listed in Nathan's attachment titled
"Personal Financial Statement." Additionally, the
agreement states each party "has received full and
complete answers to all questions the other has asked about
the other's income and assets," and "each has
carefully considered their right to be represented by
parties offered differing testimony about the events
preceding the signing of the prenuptial agreement. According
to Ashley's testimony, she met Nathan around May 2005,
they began dating in August 2005, and a couple months later
she moved from her parents' home into Nathan's home.
They became a serious couple in November 2005 when he gave
her a ring, and they had set their wedding date by Christmas
2005. She learned she was pregnant with their first child in
mid-January 2006. Also in January 2006, she began planning
for their "very small wedding" with about fifty
guests at their home. She first learned he wanted her to sign
a prenuptial agreement on the morning of May 11. However, she
claimed Nathan simply told her she "needed to sign
something because he was going to get sued and" the
document would protect them. Later that afternoon, she met
him at the office of attorney Bryan Schulte, who had drafted
the agreement for Nathan. She was inside the office for about
fifteen minutes, during which time she met with Nathan and
Schulte, they read through the agreement, and she signed it.
She claimed no one told her she should consult another lawyer
before signing; she did not know what a prenuptial agreement
was, she did not understand the importance of the document,
and she never received a copy of the document until these
presented a very different account of the events leading up
the signing of the prenuptial agreement. He testified he
bought Ashley's engagement ring in early November 2005;
however, she did not begin wearing the ring until Christmas
2005. They became engaged around Christmas 2005, but they did
not discuss marriage at the time. To him, "engaged"
means "[t]hat possibly you would get married, that
you're a couple." They only began discussing
marriage after they learned she was pregnant in January 2006.
Ashley and her parents then began pressuring him to marry her
before she gave birth to their child. In late March or early
April 2006, he told her he would marry her but only if she
signed a prenuptial agreement. He denied telling her the
agreement was meant to protect them from a lawsuit. From his
standpoint, Ashley indicated she understood the agreement and
told him "she didn't want anything of mine, business
and/or anything like that, that she wasn't that type of
person; she knew she was coming into the marriage with
nothing." He recalled Schulte gave her a chance to read
the agreement, offered to let her take it to another
attorney, and offered to give her a copy. She declined the
offers of consulting another attorney or receiving a copy,
and "she scanned through some of it" and signed it.
forward to September 15, 2015, when Ashley filed the petition
for dissolution of marriage. The prenuptial agreement made
its appearance during the discovery phase of these
proceedings and became a primary issue during trial and now
on appeal. Trial was held on January 10, 11, and 12, 2017. On
April 12, the court issued the decree of dissolution, which
decided the prenuptial agreement was enforceable, granted
physical care of the children to Ashley, and entered a
schedule for the children to visit Nathan overnight on
Tuesdays and alternating weeks in the summer. Both parties
then filed motions asking the court to reconsider or enlarge
its decree, which the court subsequently denied on May 16.
Ashley now appeals, arguing the court erred in finding the
premarital agreement enforceable and in establishing the
Standard of Review
review dissolution proceedings de novo. In re Marriage of
Shanks, 758 N.W.2d 506, 510 (Iowa 2008). Our de novo
review extends to "issues concerning the validity and
construction of premarital agreements." Id. at
511. "We give weight to fact findings of the district
court, particularly as to witness credibility, but are not
bound by them." Id.